Pitt | Swanson Engineering

Welcome from the Associate Dean of Diversity

Sylvanus WosuIt is my pleasure to welcome you to the Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE) Office of Diversity. SSOE diversity refers to the integrated differences and similarities that all individuals and programs contribute in the academic mission of the school. The mission of the Engineering Office of Diversity (EOD) is to create and sustain learning and working environments where those differences and similarities are valued and respected, and all students, especially women and underrepresented students are included and empowered to excel in engineering education. EOD provides continuous academic and community support services through four program areas: the Pitt Engineering Career Access Program (PECAP) pre-college INVESTING NOW and college Pitt EXCEL Programs, Diversity Graduate Engineering Program (DGEP), and Diversity Education Program (DEP).

Sylvanus N. Wosu, PhD

Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs


Filling the Gap: Pittsburgh Promise recipients share their success stories

MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles

Lots of people can claim that education saved their life, but in Jackie Sharp’s case, it's literal. As a high school freshman, Sharp was struck by a car running a red light two days before Christmas. Most of the impact was absorbed by the school laptop she carried in her backpack. Its screen was shot and, it turned out, so was playing hockey competitively. Doctors checking out Sharp post-accident discovered she was missing part of a vertebrae in her neck that wraps around a blood vessel going to the brain. A puncture or hit from playing contact sports could cause that to burst. So Sharp was sidelined. “Hockey was the love of my life, and I was devastated,” she said. “A really good friend said, ‘Why don’t you join the robotics team?’ And I fell in love with engineering.” Read the full story (with subscription) at the Pittsburgh Business Times.
Author: Patty Tascarella, Senior Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times

Engineering the new age

All SSoE News, Diversity, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

When the New Pittsburgh Courier was preparing to interview James Martin II, the new dean of Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, we expected to talk about his international reputation as an expert on earthquakes and disaster mitigation; about what his being the first Black dean of the school might mean for minority enrollment; about why he became an engineer. We didn’t talk about any of that—instead, we talked about the Roman Empire, about philosophy, about Chaos theory and non-linearity, about how the global industrial age started here in Pittsburgh, and about how its coming replacement—which no one has a name for yet—could also start here in Pittsburgh. “The focus in the industrial age was on efficiency. We built institutions that mimicked the machines we built. It was a linear model,” Martin II told the Courier. “But we live in a non-lineal world. It’s not about size and consolidating resources. It’s about knowledge and connecting to flows of resources. It’s why a company that didn’t exist 10 years ago, Uber, is valued at $150 billion and Sears is going bankrupt.” Read the full article at the New Pittsburgh Courier.
Author: Christian Morrow, Courier Staff Writer

EQT Foundation Supports INVESTING NOW Girls Programming with $15K Grant


PITTSBURGH (July 5, 2018) … For a third consecutive year, the EQT Foundation has awarded the Swanson School of Engineering’s INVESTING NOW Female Empowerment Mission (FEM) a $15,000 grant to help fuel an ongoing commitment to provide enhanced, specialized opportunities for female high school students. At the Swanson School, The FEM program will focus specifically on engaging students in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). "The EQT Foundation is proud to provide continuing support for the University of Pittsburgh's INVESTING NOW Female Empowerment Mission," said Charlene Petrelli, president of the EQT Foundation. "Supporting diverse education initiatives in the areas where we operate is a priority for EQT, and it is our hope that by participating in this program, these young women will work to create change and a continued understanding of the role women have in STEM careers." “These funds will help us carry out programming designed to further inspire and encourage young women’s interest and participation in STEM fields,” added Alaine Allen, Director of the INVESTING NOW pre-college diversity program and the Pitt EXCEL undergraduate diversity program at the University of Pittsburgh. Three main objectives of the FEM program are to: increase the number of female participants interested in pursuing STEM fields, increase the number of female graduates choosing to major in STEM fields, and increase the confidence and knowledge of the young women entering college to pursue STEM majors. The EQT grant will help support monthly workshops led by female professionals, college students, and faculty in STEM fields. The workshops will include guest speakers who will share their knowledge and personal experiences and engage students in discussions and activities to help the students understand the significance of pursuing STEM majors and careers.“The high school students will also have the opportunity to share their personal stories and pre-conceptions about STEM careers and other STEM-related experiences,” Allen added.Allen and the Pitt INVESTING NOW team have a variety of other strategies planned that will benefit from the EQT funding and help achieve the FEM program objectives. They include: field trips designed to expose the students to STEM fields and provide more opportunities for the students to interact with professional STEM women; visits to colleges and universities to learn more about their respective STEM programs and enrollment requirements and to speak with faculty and students in these programs; attendance at regional or national diversity conferences to allow participants to network with female professionals who serve as role models in STEM fields; and two special outreach projects that will enable college students to provide mentoring and STEM exposure to girls in the Pittsburgh area. “For the outreach projects, we will connect with a local school districts or community-based organizations to identify opportunities to bring INVESTING NOW FEM participants to young girls in the community who would most benefit from their mentorship,” explained Allen.About INVESTING NOWCreated in 1988, INVESTING NOW is a college preparatory program created to stimulate, support, and recognize the high academic performance of pre-college students from groups that are historically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics majors and careers. The purpose of the program is to ensure that participants are well prepared for matriculation at the University of Pittsburgh. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

Gateway Engineers along with past President establish funds to help women engineering students at Pitt

Civil & Environmental, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (May 15, 2018) … Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a greater need for engineers over the next ten years, data show that women who earn an engineering degree are less likely to work in the engineering profession.1 At the same time, the percentage of women with engineering degrees has remained flat for more than a decade.2 However, a recent gift to the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering from one of Pittsburgh’s most successful woman engineers hopes to attract more women to the profession and help to build the professional networks needed to continue in the profession. Ruthann L. Omer, P.E. earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Pitt in 1983, and was the first female municipal engineering in Allegheny County and recently retired as President of Gateway Engineers. She and Gateway Engineers established two funds at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering to help the next generation of engineers succeed at the University and beyond. While the Omer Family Scholarship Fund will support undergraduate tuition and other educational expenses and to support furthering the diversity of the undergraduate student body in the Swanson School’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The Omer Family Engineering Legacy Fund established by Gateway Engineers will enhance student success by supporting the School’s award-winning chapter of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).  Gateway Engineers’ CEO, Jason Jesso, applauds the mission of SWE. “SWE offers engineering students with opportunities to network, obtain leadership training, earn scholarships and advance their careers,” Mr. Jesso said. “We’re incredibly thankful for Gateway Engineers and Ruthann’s commitment to engineering education and student success,” noted Gerald D. Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering. “They are well respected by their engineering peers in the region and are an example of the success our women engineering students can achieve in the profession.” The Omer Family Engineering Legacy Fund will enable Pitt SWE members to attend the national conference, beginning with WE18 in Minneapolis, October 18-20, 2018. ### For more information about how to give to these funds or other programs, visit the Office of Development and Alumni Affairs. About Gateway EngineersGateway is a full-service civil engineering and consulting firm with multiple offices that can design and manage a project from concept to completion. For more than 60 years, the company has been at the forefront of innovation in the engineering industry. Today, the company effectively and efficiently manages literally thousands of projects a year for a diverse group of clients throughout the country. Headquartered in Pittsburgh with offices in Butler, Pa. and Cecil Township, Pa., Gateway employs more than 160 and is consistently ranked as one of the top 500 firms in the U.S. by Engineering News-Record.1 Corbett, C., & Hill, C. (2015). "Solving the Equation: The Variables for Women’s Success in Engineering and Computing." Washington, DC: American Association of University Women.2 Yoder, B. L. (2017). Engineering by the Numbers. American Society for Engineering Education.


CEE’s Melissa Bilec Wins Faculty Diversity Award

Civil & Environmental, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (April 24, 2018) … US Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald Holder announced Melissa Bilec, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering and deputy director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, is the recipient of the 2017-18 Swanson School of Engineering Faculty Diversity Award. “[Melissa’s] continued accomplishments are extremely important in helping us reach our diversity goals and national prominence in this area,” wrote Gerald Holder, U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering, in the award letter. He added that Dr. Bilec was chosen to receive the award for creating a positive and inclusive academic environment, participation in diversity related initiatives, and diversity enrichment within the community.The Faculty Diversity Award Committee specifically cited Dr. Bilec’s achievements as: Commitment to community engagement and building relationships with underserved communities where engineering skills and student projects can better the lives of others; leadership and mentorship for women in STEM, as co-advisor of PittSWE, the Society of Women Engineers, and by incorporating strategic plans to support diversity efforts in goals as part of the ELATE program; recognized excellence in mentorship, at the graduate and postdoctoral levels, including the 2016 Outstanding Mentor Award from the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association; and service to the Swanson School in the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students through campus visits and conference participation. “I am committed to diversity and inclusion efforts both professionally and personally,” said Dr. Bilec. “I’m honored to be recognized for my particular role in our shared mission to respect and empower members of the Swanson School, the surrounding community, and beyond.”The award committee included Swanson School faculty members Dr. Jeffrey Vipperman, Dr. Judith Yang, Dr. David Sanchez, Dr. Steven Abramowitch, and Dr. Robert Parker, who served as the committee’s chair. Dean Holder presented the award to Dr. Bilec at the March 14 faculty meeting.The Office of Diversity encourages each department within the Swanson School to nominate a faculty member who shows commitment to diversity through service, teaching, and research. In addition to the award, Dr. Bilec received a $2,000 grant and induction into the Office of Diversity’s Champions for Diversity Honor Roll. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

128B Benedum Hall
3700 O'Hara Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Tel: 412-624-9842
Email: eodadmin@pitt.edu

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